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Cognitive impairment in schizoaffective disorder: a comparison with non-psychotic bipolar and healthy subjects


Eduard Vieta, MD, PhD, Clinical Institute of Neuroscience, University Hospital Clinic of Barcelona, Villarroel, 170, 08036-Barcelona, Spain.


Objective:  Only a few studies have examined specifically the neuropsychological performance of schizoaffective patients.

Method:  The sample consisted of 34 euthymic DSM-IV schizoaffective patients, who were compared with 41 euthymic bipolar patients without history of psychotic symptoms and 35 healthy controls. Euthymia was defined by a score of 6 or less at the Young Mania Rating Scale and a score of 8 or less at the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale for at least 6 months. Patients were compared with several clinical, occupational, and neuropsychological variables such as executive function, attention, verbal and visual memory and the two groups were contrasted with 35 healthy controls on cognitive performance. The three groups were compared using mancova after checking the potential role of several co-variables.

Results:  Schizoaffective patients showed greater impairment than controls and bipolar patients, in several domains, including verbal memory, executive function, and attentional measures. Bipolar patients without history of psychosis performed similar to the controls except for verbal fluency.

Conclusion:  Schizoaffective disorder carries more neurocognitive impairment than non-psychotic bipolar disorder and more occupational difficulties.